New Delhi: India’s telecom regulator wants the government to distribute radio spectrum through auctions in place of a subscriber-based formula for airwave allocation to wireless phone service firms.
“The subscriber-linked criterion for spectrum allocation is definitely not perfect, and it has its own problems, which will get resolved itself when radio spectrum for offering phone services is auctioned, as recommended by us,” said Nripendra Misra, chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) in an interview. “Time has come for a more transparent, predictable and market-price-driven allocation of spectrum.”
Regulatory experts argue more spectrum means lesser investment in setting up additional telecom towers. “Subscriber-based allocation criterion gives a very wrong incentive to operators by not encouraging them to make efficient use of whatever spectrum they already have,” said Mahesh Uppal, an independent telecom consultant.
On Friday, the department of telecommunications or DoT said that any additional spectrum to existing operators such as Bharti Airtel Ltd and Reliance Communications Ltd will be allotted in units of 1MHz each, up to 15MHz.
As per last week’s DoT orders, operators have to serve at least 1.5 million subscribers to be eligible for 6.2MHz of additional spectrum in New Delhi and Mumbai. Firms can seek up to 10.2MHz of spectrum after they have around 320,000 subscribers in other metros.
Earlier, radio spectrum was given in units of 1.8, 2, 2.4 and 2.6MHz, going up to 15MHz.